Sweden’s first female PM elected for a second time in a week

Magdalena Andersson will form a one-party, minority government, with a cabinet expected to be named on Tuesday.

Social Democratic Party leader Magdalena Andersson is congratulated after being appointed as new prime minister after a vote in the Swedish parliament [Jonas Ekstromer /TT News Agency/via Reuters]

Sweden’s first female prime minister Magdalena Andersson has been reappointed as the head of the country’s government, less than a week after she resigned within hours of taking the job.

Politicians narrowly elected her again on Monday. She will form a one-party, minority government and her cabinet is expected to be named on Tuesday.

Andersson served as prime minister for seven hours before stepping down last week after the Greens left her two-party coalition. Their move followed the parliament’s rejection of her government’s budget proposal in favour of one presented by opposition parties including the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats.

“Like all minority governments, we will seek cooperation with other parties in parliament, and I see good opportunities to do so,” Andersson, whose party holds 100 seats in the 349-seat parliament, told a news conference on Monday.

“The Social Democrats have the biggest party group in parliament by a wide margin. We also have a long tradition of cooperation with others and stand ready to do what is needed to lead Sweden forward.”

The leader of the right-wing opposition Moderate Party, Ulf Kristersson, described the incoming administration as a “nine-month caretaker government” and said it would not be able to achieve much in the run-up to elections due in September 2022.

Andersson will have to lead one of Sweden’s weakest governments in recent decades, and govern on a budget in part formulated by three opposition parties, including the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, whose gains over the past decade lie at the heart of Sweden’s political turmoil.

Parliament adopted budget amendments put forward by the opposition last week which heavily reshaped government spending plans.

The Social Democrats have been in power since 2014 supported by parties united by little else than their desire to keep the Sweden Democrats from influencing policy.

The centre-right opposition has struggled to gather enough votes to form a majority government and polls suggest there may be little shift in the political calculus in the next election.

Andersson’s appointment as prime minister had marked a milestone for Sweden, viewed for decades as one of Europe’s most progressive countries when it comes to gender relations, but which had yet to have a woman in the top political post.

Andersson had been tapped to replace Stefan Lofven as party leader and prime minister, roles he relinquished earlier this year.

Earlier in the day, 117 politicians voted yes to Andersson, 174 rejected her appointment while 57 abstained and one politician was absent. Under the Swedish Constitution, prime ministers can be named and govern as long as a parliamentary majority – a minimum of 175 lawmakers – is not against them.

For Sweden’s next general election, scheduled for September 11, Andersson will face major challenges.

Gang violence plagues the suburbs of major cities. The health service barely coped with the pandemic and needs strengthening, while the government will need to manage a promised transition to a zero-emissions economy.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies